WION Edit: Donald Trump India visit - can India deal with the US President?

DelhiWritten By: WIONUpdated: Feb 20, 2020, 12:18 PM IST

US President Donald Trump  Photograph:(Reuters)

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Is Donald Trump India's best bet for a strong relationship with the United States?

US President Donald Trump is a showman, his extreme rhetoric won him votes but his bluster on Twitter and impulsive diplomacy have caused more pains than gains for America. 

The US President is scheduled to travel to India on February 24 and 25. Ahead of his visit, let's find out if Donald Trump is India's best bet for a strong relationship with the United States?

Previous American Presidents have maintained a steady policy towards India. Bill Clinton called out Pakistan for violating the line of control during the Kargil war.

This was the first time that an American President publically sided with India against Pakistan. In 2005, George Bush signed a historic deal - this agreement lifted a three-decade-old moratorium on Nuclear trade with India.

Despite his initial reservations, Barack Obama pushed for America's defence alliance with India, among other things, he understood how important a market India is.


He was the first American President to attend the Republic Day celebrations as a chief guest. Under Obama, America elevated India's status to a major defence partner.

Of course, all these presidents also kept giving military and other aid to Pakistan in their miscalculated and poorly executed war on terror. But on India, there was gradual progress and some semblance of consistency.

However, under Donald Trump, you can't be sure - one day he's your best friend, the next day he's mocking you. As far as India is concerned, he has little to show in terms of achievements or progress. His foreign policy is erratic.

Just before his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Trump tried to set the tone. He said that tariffs on American goods are unacceptable and they must be withdrawn.

This was a clear attempt at pressure tactics by the American President. He calls himself the best deal maker, but he's yet to make a winning deal as President. The word that describes him is disruptive and not of a good kind.

He removed a preferential trade status to India. Since taking office, Trump has tried to cut back on H1B Visas to Indian techies.

As of November, the denials had gone up from six to 24 per cent. Americans are transactional, Trump is another level.

This is what explains why India and the US have not been able to close a trade deal for so long.

Trump is working on re-election. Everything he does is campaign fodder.  

So, he would want an agreement, even a modest one to showcase at home. But he will be hard to negotiate with. On the plus side, relations between nations are bigger than the men and women ruling them. Indo-US ties are strong, with or without Trump.

There is bipartisan support in favour of this relationship. Three things work for India:

1. It's a big market.

2. It's a major defence buyer.

3. Strategically, America needs India.

American policymakers see India as an obvious counterweight to China because of India's size, location and economic prospects. And as the past has shown, any American President will have to find a way to work with India.  

We are not sure if Donald Trump can provide the stability that this relationship needs. His erratic behaviour, narcissistic tendencies and disruptive approach to foreign policy do not inspire confidence.

But he's the man America has chosen and if he secures a second term, expect the rollercoaster ride to continue for the next four years.

(Disclaimer: WION Edit is the channel's take on the big events of the world)